The Agonist

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Recently I caught up with Vicky Psarakis from The Agonist at their show at The Kreun in Kortrijk. As with every interview I do, I was stressing badly. The fact that she recognised me from their show at Epic Metal Fest in Holland the day before though, made me feel at ease. It also proved to me that The Agonist really is a band that’s involved with their fans and that, to them, not every face in the crowd is “just another person”. If you’re interested in reading more about their album Five, feel free to read my review. If you want to learn more about the band, check out their website.

In an interview with Blabbermouth you mentioned the band’s finally found their sound. Is this directed to your new producer Mike Plotnikoff or are there other aspects that have changed?
I meant when I say ‘the sound’, not exactly the mix, rather the songwriting and the structures and just how they are as songs. I say that because Eye Of Providence was the album that was like a bridge from the old material where I wasn’t in the band to this album. I feel that we are going to keep on evolving as a band just based on knowing who we are as musicians. Also because we try to keep challenging ourselves and our musical tastes change as we discover new bands and get older. I think our material is always going to be different but I feel like this change is going to keep going in the same direction as Five.

Is that also why you changed producers? Because all your previous albums had been with Christian Donaldson…
It’s been something the band had felt for a while. I had only done one album with Chris so I was new to this but I can understand how doing four albums with the same producer in your hometown isn’t great anymore after a while. Even though Chris is amazing, it’s just that the band felt like it needed a change towards the sound too. Being with Napalm, they actually suggested Mike to us. They contacted him and he listened to our material and he got back saying he was interested in working with us. And yeah, that’s how it all went down.

Do you think your fans are ready for that change?
I don’t know… maybe yes and no. It all depends on the musical taste of “the fan”. I can’t just put every listener in a box and say they are or aren’t going to accept it. Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s not about accepting but rather about listening and enjoying the music. The way I listen to music is: I’ll hear an album and if I like it, I’ll listen to it again and again and again. If I don’t, I might give it another chance but usually if I don’t like it, I’ll move on. But I’m not going to, you know , freak out about why I don’t like an album and feel hurt as a fan for whatever reason. We put out music, we’re going to keep doing that and some people are going to like it, some won’t.

Well, at least the essence of your songs stays the same. It’s all personal stuff you put into the lyrics and things people can relate to. What would you say is your biggest inspiration?
I would say that for me personally, my inspiration is just everyday life. Whether it’s my own personal experiences or someone else’s story. I really like to write about topics that, as you said, anyone can relate to. So I’m not going to create this far fetched, crazy, fantasy story. I like to keep it raw and keep it real and because, also, as a fan of music myself, I look at lyrics and I want to feel something. Something I’ve experienced and something I know that the artist is experiencing as well. It makes for a deeper connection.

And what is then the song you can relate to most on Five?
That’s a hard one. Musically I can name like five or six songs of the album.
*Here followed half a minute awkward silence as Vicky stared at my recorder while she was thinking.*
I think The Moment is, lyrically and musically perhaps, a song anybody can really relate to. Because it’s not specific. I wrote it keeping in mind really big moments in people’s lives. It’s like, you’re going through something very crucial in life and when that happens, you have to realise it and you have to just fully aknowledge it and immerse yourself in it. The thing with moments is that they pass so it’s like… it differs from person to person obviously but whether you’re playing on stage or being in the audience or something more personal like getting married, having children, all of those are very important moments but they come and go. So my whole thing with this song is.. live that moment.

Very nice..
Thank you *laughs*

Where do you see the band in 8 years time when you release the album Ten?
*laughs* Euhm, honestly, just, I hope we can continue doing what we’re doing. Putting out albums, touring, meeting new people,… it’s the reason we do all this. If it can be on a larger scale I’m not going to compain of course. If we can appeal to more people down the road and keep going strong, that’s more than what I can ask for.

You started off on Youtube before joining The Agonist. How did you find the change from behind the screen to on stage?
When I was doing my Youtube covers, I was in the comfort of my own living room just singing other people’s songs. I wasn’t doing shows in front of hundreds or even thousands of people. I wasn’t recording albums. It’s been non stop work whether it’s writing material, touring, music videos, interviews,… we’re always busy and honestly, like you said, when I was at home doing my Youtube videos, there wasn’t that much work. It was more like “I’m bored today, I’ll sing a cover”.

Did you ever expect to join a band?
I was hoping for it. I never really expected it to happen though ’cause what are the odds that a band needs a new singer and if a band needs a new singer, what are the chances you’ll be the person they’ll choose? When there’s so many people out there. So no, I wasn’t really expecting it to ever happen.

And of course the fact the band contacted you…
Yeah, absolutely! There was something like, I was talking about moments earlier, that was a moment where I didn’t even realise what was happening.

Is there anything else you would like to say to the people reading this?
I just want to thank everyone that’s supported us and if you’re not a fan, check out our new album and hopefully you’ll become our fan!

After the gig, which was AWESOME by the way, the band stood at the merch taking time to talk to fans, signing CDs and having pictures taken with them. Even when there were only five people left in the room, they were still there to talk to. I had my picture taken with my bad phone camera and we said our goodbyes. Hopefully I can make it to their next show in Belgium!